Halifax Town Council discussed traffic-related concerns, an ongoing topic of conversation, at Tuesday evening’s meeting at town hall.
Tim Hudgins, a resident of 230 N. Main St., once again addressed town council in the public comment portion of the meeting regarding traffic noise and speeding in front of his house.
This is the third time in recent months that Hudgins has voiced his traffic-related concerns at town council meetings.
“I have a decibel meter, a radar gun and an audio video security camera on my house. The noise levels on the decibel reader reach levels of ear injury on North Main, and that’s a concern,” Hudgins told council. “The radar gun, I went out three different times in an hour and 45 minutes, and I had 50 speeders at 35 miles an hour up to 52.”
Halifax Police Chief Stuart Comer visited Hudgins’ residence prior to Tuesday’s meeting and told council he identified several reasons for the traffic-related noise and safety concerns in the area.
The police chief said the change in speed from 25 to 35 miles per hour on that stretch of North Main, depending on the direction of travel, could contribute to the “Jake braking” noises in a motorist’s attempt to slow down quickly or “gunning” their engine in an attempt to speed up 10 miles per hour.
Another factor, Comer said, is the fact that that portion of North Main is a congested area with the Virginia State Police office, the entrance to the Mary Bethune complex and a doctor’s office all nearby and motorists constantly slowing down to make a turn and potentially having to turn around and head back in the other direction when they miss a turn.
Comer anticipates one possible solution to the speeding problem is the police department’s future use of a speed trailer, which has been ordered.
The police chief said the speed trailer would register the speed at which a motorist was traveling and flash it on a large screen, and the police department has the ability to move the trailer to various locations in town.
Mayor Dexter Gilliam commented that he agrees traffic-related noise is a “challenge” in the town’s main business district and an issue that the town must continue to address.
Gilliam followed up Hudgins’ remarks by specifically asking him what was the highest decibel reading of traffic on his decibel reader.
Hudgins replied that he got up to 100 decibels.
To put that into perspective, Gilliam said he did some research and determined that 100 decibels equates to the volume of sound a snowmobile produces or an mp3 player being played at maximum volume.
Hudgins said the loudest traffic-related noise comes from “Jake braking” of commercial vehicles.
Citing drivers of commercial motor vehicles for improper or unnecessary use of Jake braking is problematic, Comer said.
He explained that Jake braking systems are put on commercial motor vehicles to give the driver of those vehicles the ability to determine when that type of emergency braking is necessary, and that was not up to law enforcement to determine.
Gilliam asked Comer if there were “silencers” that could be installed in Jake braking systems to stifle the sound that the town of Halifax could require drivers of commercial motor vehicles to use within the Halifax town limits. Comer replied that he would look into that possibility.
Mayor Gilliam also reminded those in attendance at the council meeting that Michael Baker International is doing a traffic study in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Transportation.
Before that study is finalized, two public hearings will be held to gain input on traffic-related issues in the community, at dates and times to be announced by the town of Halifax.
“I will strongly encourage those that have an interest in the traffic, the volume, the parking, the noise, to be prepared to participate in that public comment time,” Gilliam said.